If you were to list one key element that made players like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods,
and Ben Hogan so successful, the answers would range from ball striking and putting
to overall confidence. The one answer that would not receive a lot of consideration is
course management. All three of these great golfers possessed the ability to properly
manage a golf course.
Let me share three course management skills that I believe will lower your scores no matter how off your
ball striking is that day.
You need a game plan for every hole you are playing. Here at the Hank Haney International
Junior Golf Academy (Hank Haney IJGA), located on Hilton Head, SC, we teach the kids to
develop a strategy for each hole they play in an event. Some of the items we teach them are
knowledge of the distance to a fairway bunker from the tee, the distance to carry a bunker
on a tee shot, calculating layup yardage on a par 5 so they are left with a full swing, and/or
to avoid bunkers that are 30 to 50 yards off the green.
The quickest way to a high score is penalty shots off the tee. The easiest way to avoid
penalty shots off the tee is to tee up on the side of the tee box where the trouble is. For
instance, if there is a hazard or out-of-bounds on the right, tee off on the right-hand side and
swing away from the trouble, even if your shot ends up in the left rough or a bunker, it’s still
a good shot because you did not incur a penalty shot.
If their happens to be trouble on both sides of the hole, tee off on the side of the tee box
that gives you the most room to play your natural curve. If there is out-of-bounds to the left
and water to the right and you tend to hook the ball, tee off on the left-hand side. Even if you
push your tee shot into the water, you will be hitting your third shot further up the hole than
again from the tee box.
One last word of advice is to keep your emotions and frustrations in check when you play. There is nothing
worse than negative thinking as all that produces are bad shots!